This is Part 2 of our discussion on changes to the personal American Express card sign-up bonuses. The main article is here.
This article was updated on 16th April to reflect changes in some sign-up bonus levels.
Despite these massive changes, the good news is that it is still possible for a couple, starting from scratch with American Express, to earn 130,000 Avios fairly quickly between them.
For most Head for Points readers who are NOT starting from scratch with American Express, you are where you are. Your activity with American Express over the past 24 months will determine what you can do going forward. There is nothing you can do to change it.
Even if you cancel all of your existing American Express cards today, you will need to wait 24 months before you can start on the strategies below.
The only exception is if you qualify for an American Express Gold Business or American Express Platinum Business card. You would be able to apply for those after a gap of just six months from when you cancelled your previous American Express Membership Rewards-earning card.
If you run a small business, there is still flexibility to earn regular sign-up bonuses by focusing on Gold Business and Platinum Business.
If I have not had a personal American Express card before, what should I do?
If you have not held a personal American Express card in the previous two years, you now need to use some strategic thinking.
(Note that MBNA and Lloyds Bank-issued American Express cards do not count in terms of ‘have you had an Amex?’. We are only discussing cards issued directly by American Express.)
As far as I can work it out, here are three strategies which will allow you to earn more than one bonus on a personal American Express within a 24 month period.
First card: anything except a British Airways or British Airways Premium Plus – I recommend Preferred Rewards Gold (10,000 Membership Rewards points) but you could also get The Platinum Card (30,000 Membership Rewards points), Starwood Preferred Guest (30,000 Marriott Bonvoy points), Nectar (20,000 Nectar points), American Express Rewards (up to 10,000 Membership Rewards points), Platinum Cashback or Platinum Cashback Everyday
Second card: the British Airways Premium Plus card (25,000 Avios) – because the only restriction on getting this is if you have held either of the two British Airways American Express cards in the previous 24 months
The reason for the order here is that if you got British Airways Premium Plus first then you would block yourself from all of the cards in the first list, except for The Platinum Card.
First card: anything except a card earning Membership Rewards points – you are allowed a British Airways American Express, British Airways American Express Premium Plus, Starwood Preferred Guest, Nectar, Platinum Cashback or Platinum Cashback Everyday
Second card: The Platinum Card (30,000 Membership Rewards points) – because the only restriction on getting this is if you have held another Membership Rewards-earning card (Preferred Rewards Gold, American Express Rewards, Green) in the previous 24 months
The reason for the order here is that if you got The Platinum Card first you would block yourself from the cards in list one (apart from British Airways Premium Plus).
This is the ONLY way to get three cards with sign-up bonuses quickly:
Second and third cards (order unimportant): The Platinum Card (30,000 Membership Rewards points) – because because the only restriction on getting this is if you have held another Membership Rewards-earning card (Preferred Rewards Gold, American Express Rewards, Green) in the previous 24 months and the British Airways Premium Plus card (25,000 Avios) – because the only restriction on getting this is if you have held either British Airways American Express card in the previous 24 months
The reason for the order here is that as soon as you get The Platinum Card or the British Airways Premium Plus card, you block yourself from all of the bonuses in the first list.
Different strategies apply if you qualify for Gold Business or Platinum Business as they can still be cancelled and reopened every six months.
Strategy Three is the most valuable option
Under the new rules, if you had not previously had a personal American Express card, you can get virtually back-to-back:
30,000 Membership Rewards points from The Platinum Card
25,000 Avios from the British Airways Premium Plus card
If you converted the 30,000 Marriott Bonvoy points into 10,000 Avios and the 30,000 Membership Rewards points into 30,000 Avios, you would have earned 65,000 Avios fairly quickly from sign-up bonuses.
Don’t forget your partner in all of this
Even if YOU no longer qualify for bonuses in the medium term, think about your partner. What has he/she had and what does he/she still qualify for?
You can double up on the bonuses above.
Even with the strict new rules, a couple (where neither has had a personal American Express card in the previous 24 months) could earn 130,000 Avios between them fairly quickly if each follows Strategy Three above.
Here are links to our reviews on each of the cards, a link to the application website and the legally required interest rate information:
IMPORTANT: Note that the reviews have not been updated with the new bonus rules yet
British Airways American Express Premium Plus – apply here – our BA Premium Plus Amex review – representative APR 76.0% variable including £195 fee based on a notional £1200 credit limit, interest rate on purchases 22.9% variable
(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards? Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards Update’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)